What is it?
The world is changing and so is Bentley, hence this Bentayga Hybrid, a car that was launched late last year yet is already accounting for a significant proportion of sales, boding well for the firm’s intention to have a hybrid version of every car it sells by the end of 2023.
The Bentayga Hybrid comes replete with a 3.0-litre V6 (the smallest engine ever fitted to a Bentley), an electric motor, a battery and hybrid ancillaries. Peak power is 443bhp (the engine produces 335bhp and the motor 126bhp, just not at the same time), while the car’s total weight is a near-Mulsanne-troubling 2626kg.
Beyond that and the odd flap and dial, it's every inch the Bentayga that Autocar’s road testers bestowed with a five-star road test verdict in now-discontinued diesel form (and 4.5 stars in W12 form) and much celebration upon its launch.
There is, however, one significant bit of flotsam in this otherwise blue sea of positivity: when Andrew Frankel drove the Hybrid in the US late last year, he found himself somewhat underwhelmed by the powertrain that defines it. To quote: “The engine is just a device for doing a job, and I cannot offhand recall when I last drove a Bentley with a powerplant so far removed from the traditional values of the brand.”
Now, it would be a foolish writer who thought he knew better than Frankel on such matters, but there was one pay-off that's worthy of further attention on this first UK drive. To quote again: “This Bentayga will be bought by those who love the idea and image of Bentley ownership, care not one whit about what the car’s like to drive, but are drawn also to both the financial benefits of its hybrid system and being able to appear both affluent and environmentally aware all at the same time.”
That I’d argue, is on the harsh side of tough, as we’ll explore.